It's a layer of complexity that drone hobbyists probably don't need, but for professional cinematographers it could be just the thing to give their work an edge. DJI's freshly announced Focus is a control system that allows remote adjustment of aperture and focus, meaning directors can make tweaks from the ground to get those killer shots from the air.
Beginners and even those with a few piloting hours under the belt might already have their hands full just keeping their drone in the air, let alone worrying about details like camera focus and aperture. But for cinematography crews working on high-end productions, these things matter.
The Focus is a small handheld device that works with a DJI Inspire drone carrying one of the company's Zenmuse X5 or X5R cameras. Alternatively it can be hooked up to DJI's Ronin rig or just about any camera on the ground.
A brushless motor within drives a swappable gear, which in turn spins the desired aperture of focus ring on the camera. While DJI's Zenmuse X5 already allows remote control of focus and aperture, this is handled through an app whereby users tap on the screen to select a focal point. The Focus attachment, on the other hand, is intended to make the experience just like "turning the lens itself."
The resistance of the Focus wheel is customizable, so users can set just the right amount of stiffness. An illuminated white ring around the wheel can be marked with pencil or masking tape if you're focus pulling by hand, or alternatively points and even the speed between them can be programmed through an OLED display.
Working with other cameras on the ground, the Focus will function up to 100 m (330 ft) away. Fixed to a Zenmuse camera it links up directly to the Inspire's controller, affording it the full 5 km range (3.1 mi). It runs on a swappable battery that can be recharged via USB.
The Focus is available now through DJI's website, and just to reiterate that high-end-focus, is priced at US$2,000.
The promo video below provides an overview and shows the Focus in action.